Adopter Categories for New Products

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What are Adopter Categories for New Products?

Consumers are divided into 5 adopter categories based on their behavioral patterns and values. The 5 adopter categories, in order of their speed of uptake, are:

1. Innovators

2. Early Adopters

3. Early Majority

4. Late Majority

5. Laggards

When a new product first emerges in the market, it must be accepted by the different adopters that make up the market.

Identifying adopters is valuable for crafting marketing messages. By addressing any adopter category’s values, maximum impact is more likely.

Questions related to Adopter Categories for New Products

What is the adoption curve for new products?

The adoption curve for new products illustrates the sequence in which different categories of consumers adopt innovations. It typically consists of five stages: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. 

These groups adopt products at different times, influenced by their willingness to try new things, social status, and other factors. The curve provides insights into market penetration and the potential growth of new products. For a deeper dive into this topic, including how early adopters influence customer adoption patterns, read the article 'Understanding Early Adopters and Customer Adoption Patterns' on the Interaction Design Foundation.


What is the consumer's adoption of a new product?

Consumer adoption of a new product refers to the process by which an individual or group uses an innovation. It's typically depicted by a curve that breaks consumers into five categories: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Each category represents a specific segment's willingness and timeframe to adopt new products. Factors like perceived benefits, risks, and social influence can impact the speed of adoption. For comprehensive insights into how consumers transition through these stages and the influence of early adopters, explore the article 'Understanding Early Adopters and Customer Adoption Patterns' on the Interaction Design Foundation.

Which category of customers tends not to buy the new innovation?

Laggards represent the final group on the adoption curve for new products. Unlike earlier segments, they're typically skeptical of change and innovations. Laggards often wait until a product has been established in the market and, even then, might resist adopting it. In the video discussion about product improvements and design changes, there's an emphasis on understanding user behaviors and the reasons behind their actions. While innovations might cater to early adopters and the majority, it's essential to recognize the hesitancy of laggards. Dive deeper into this topic by watching the video discussion on the Interaction Design Foundation.

Are early adopters risk averse?

No, early adopters are typically not risk-averse. They're risk tolerant. Early adopters are individuals who eagerly embrace innovations before the majority of the population. They're willing to take risks by trying out new products or technologies, even when there's limited information available. Their adventurous nature and willingness to experiment often place them ahead of the curve in adopting new solutions. 

What are the five stages of product adoption?

The five stages are:

  1. Innovators - The first group to adopt a new product, open to risks and exploration.

  2. Early Adopters - Enthusiastic about new ideas and willing to champion them.

  3. Early Majority - More deliberate in adoption, influenced by feedback from early groups.

  4. Late Majority - Skeptical about innovations, adopting only after the majority have tried them.

  5. Laggards - Last to adopt, typically resistant to change.

Each stage represents a segment of consumers with distinct characteristics. 

What are the types of new product innovation?

New product innovations can be categorized into two main types:

  1. Incremental Improvements: These involve enhancing existing product features. Examples include refining user interfaces or adding features that customers expect. It's like allowing job seekers to search for jobs near them – a seemingly minor addition that can significantly impact user experience and metrics.

  2. Disruptive Innovations: These radical changes create new markets or reshape existing ones. It might involve reimagining how a product functions. For instance, allowing job applicants to use video resumes instead of traditional text or pivoting into training and certifications to meet user needs.

To truly understand user needs and drive innovation, in-depth research and agile, quick usability testing are essential. 

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Where to learn more about adopter categories?

Dive deep into adopter categories and understand their implications on product design by enrolling in the Get Your Product Used: Adoption and Appropriation course on Interaction Design Foundation. This comprehensive course offers insights into user behavior, adoption strategies, and methods to ensure your product resonates with target audiences. Stay ahead by equipping yourself with essential knowledge. Visit Interaction Design Foundation for more expert-led courses on UX and product design topics.

Literature on Adopter Categories for New Products

Here’s the entire UX literature on Adopter Categories for New Products by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Adopter Categories for New Products

Take a deep dive into Adopter Categories for New Products with our course Get Your Product Used: Adoption and Appropriation .

Designing for user experience and usability is not enough. If products are not used—and it doesn’t matter how good they are—they will be consigned to the trash can of history.

Sony’s Betamax, Coca-Cola’s New Coke, Pepsi’s Crystal Pepsi, and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe are among the most famous products which made it into production but failed to wow their audiences, according to Business Insider. In fact, Harvard Business Review dedicated a long piece to “Why most product launches fail”—so it’s not just big brands that aren’t getting their design process right but a lot of businesses and individuals, too.

So, what is the way forward? Well, once you’re sure that the user experience and usability of your product work the way you want them to, you’ve got to get your designs adopted by users (i.e., they have to start using them). Ideally, you want them to appropriate your designs, too; you want the users to start using your designs in ways you didn’t intend or foresee. How do we get our designs adopted and appropriated? We design for adoption and appropriation.

This course is presented by Alan Dix, a former professor at Lancaster University in the UK and a world-renowned authority in Human-Computer Interaction. Alan is also the author the university-level textbook “Human-Computer Interaction.” It is a short course designed to help you master the concepts and practice of designing for adoption and appropriation. It contains all the basics to get you started on this path and the practical tips to implement the ideas. Alan blends theory and practice to ensure you get to grips with these essential design processes.

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